One Group Is Helping Veterans in Many Different Ways.
Published: October 31, 2016
By: Lori Chandler Pruitt
If you try to reach Jeremy Hogan, chances are he and other volunteers are busy building a wheelchair ramp for a military veteran’s home, cleaning a yard, or helping veterans in many other ways.
Hogan, a retired Marine Corps sergeant who lives in Cullman, understands the struggles of veterans. He and his wife run the 501(c)3 nonprofit Saving Forgotten Warriors, and in less than a year, the organization and its volunteers has helped nearly 60 veterans.
“So many of these people are in dire need,” he says. “We help in several ways, from building the ramps to complete home repairs and yard work, to furniture and clothing. We take some to doctor’s appointments. Some need a place to live. We help them find jobs. Each case is different.”
Hogan, who has built American flags out of barn wood to give to veterans, was at a convenience store in January when he heard of a veteran who needed a wheelchair ramp built at his home. Hogan went out to the home and found that the man’s situation was worse than he expected, so he rallied friends to come and help with home repairs and other work. About 25 friends did, a television station came out to cover the event, and Hogan realized he could do more.
“We saw that the need was all over,” he says. “So we started this organization. It runs completely on volunteers.”
The group also relies on donations of all kinds. For example, the Vettes-4-Vets® of Hoover donated a van to help take veterans to appointments. The group also is raising money to buy a van with a lift for handicapped veterans.
Saving Forgotten Warriors, which has a website (savingforgottenwarriors.org) and a Facebook page, also works hard to raise money. For example, the group is accepting donations to provide Thanksgiving dinner November 21 for veterans and his/her immediate family at a local restaurant. Hogan does regular radio interviews to keep the community up to date on the group’s activities. The group sells T-shirts and other items at festivals and fairs, holds raffles, and gets help from local restaurants and businesses who donate their time and services. A group of employees from a company have pitched in for home repairs, and a local salon offers veterans haircuts for $5. The group also has helped with hotel expenses for a young veteran and his wife who have a newborn at NICU at UAB.
Along with monetary donations, the group needs building materials, clothing, food, furniture, personal hygiene items, kitchenware, bedding and curtains.
The future of the group is bright. The group recently received a donation of more than 30 acres in Cullman County and hopes to build a transitional veterans facility that will offer a multi-faceted short-term program (two months to a year) that will help bring veterans back into civilian life and mentor them, Hogan says. “The transition is sometimes hard and some aren’t sure where to turn,” he says. “I’m an orphan myself, and I had no family when I got out. This will help with PTSD, rehabilitation, career help and other services.”
Hogan says he is thankful for the many people who have helped the organization and continue to do so. “I believe serving others is a true blessing,” he says. “I didn’t really think so eight months ago…I was naïve and was only thinking… about me and my family and nobody else. When I stopped worrying about me…and began worrying about others, I started noticing things getting better. It has been a true blessing I never could imagine.”
For more information or to help, go to http://savingforgottenwarriors.org or go to the group’s Facebook page.
Lori Pruitt is associate editor of Birmingham Parent.